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"Pina" (106 min.) is a thrilling documentary about/celebration of choreographer Pina Bausch's work. It is important to note that Bausch herself was involved in the preparations of this movie, but she passed away just before shooting beagan after a short but devastating bout with cancer. Director Wim Wenders halted the production, but the dancers of the Wuppertal Tanztheatre convinced him to carry on and to make the movie as a tribute to Bausch. And that it certainly is.

The movie showcases 4 major pieces by Bausch, starting with The Rite of Spring, in which the dancers perform on a thick layer of dark sand. The other pieces are Cafe Mueller, Kontakthoff, and Vollmond. The latter is truly remarkable: there is a huge rock on the stage, and a continuous waterfall onto the stage, which eventually gets flooded for the most part. The dancers splish and splash their way to, through and onto it and it is an incredible visual experience. A number of scenes are also filmed in and around Wuppertal, including on the Wuppertal Schwebebahn (the "hanging monorail") as well as a number of industrial sites that are visually very powerful. The documentary includes short interviews with various company dancers on how Pina influenced them. Sadly, the are only snippets of old footage of Pina Bausch herself.

I saw this in the theatre in 3D and while the 3D was good, I will say that the 3D aspect is not essential to appreciate this movie for what it is: a love note to modern ballet and to Pina Bausch. If you have any interest in ballet, you truly do not want to miss out on this movie. "Pina" was nominated for an Oscar for best documentary, and it is easy to see why. Highly, highly recommended!
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on March 11, 2012
I've never been entirely convinced by Wim Wenders as a narrative film director-- his talents have always been more situated in the realm of conceptual art than that of the storyteller. Here he gets a chance to apply his conceptual art strengths to one of the few great artists of our time, Pina Bausch. The results are often startling, enthralling, and affirmative.

The opening excerpt from Bausch's RITE OF SPRING ranks as one of the greatest pieces of filmmaking I've ever seen. There is no doubt that Wenders has found the best possible use for 3D. To be frank, I would have preferred to see the entire performance rather than the documentary which enfolds it, but ideally we can have both (hint to distributors: there are at least five DVDs to be gleaned from the various dances here. I'd buy all of them!!)

The central section of the film includes excerpts from Bausch's more cerebral work, and it is here that perhaps the film is less effective. While the work itself is absolutely fascinating, the series of tableaux which Wenders constructs breaks the spell essential to fully entering Bausch's world. On the other hand, Wenders does create some extraordinary moments possible only through film-- by, for example, intercutting between dancers of various ages-- thus participating in the creative process and making the film itself a document keeping Bausch alive.

Meanwhile, we get- a la "A Chorus Line," the dancers themselves, introduced in close ups Avedon would have been proud of. This device is interesting, if not, perhaps, in the end, terribly well integrated. Threading through the film as a leitmotif we get a processional that reminded me of the end of 8 1/2 (A.O. Scott cites "The Seventh Seal," which also suggested itself to me). It works (we are reassured that the stream of energy Bausch left behind remains) but these cinematic gestures don't approach the brilliance of the work celebrated by the film itself (which is just as it should be, I suppose).

All in all, not one of the greatest documentaries of all time, but absolutely essential, nonetheless. Magnificent!
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on January 22, 2013
The other reviews are not talking about the official Criterion blu ray release, so I am putting in a review because I preordered this and have the Criterion release of the 3D and regular blu rays.

The 3D transfer is stunning, I have a number of other 3D releases, but this is one of the best I have seen. I also saw this in the theater and I almost feel I get the 3D effect better from a home theater system than what I saw in the theater.

In addition to the film, there is a 45 Making of Pina documentary, for once available in 3D also. There are some deleted segments of dances that are not in the film that run I believe about 30 minutes that you will want to see if you were a fan of the film or Bausch's work. They are also included as 3D and regular versions.

Another supplement is a promotional interview by Wim Wenders, which is 22 minutes long. If you want background of the making of this film, it is a good look into his mindset and motivations for what he put on screen.

Criterion has done itself proud in it's first 3D release because once again, they have pushed the bar so high that probably only they will be able to compete with this title.
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on January 4, 2012
Finally an important show of Great Pina's work. But, why $ 37.98 for a zone 2 dvd - plus shipment charges? You could get it direct from the British Amazon site for 8.99 english sterling pounds - plus about $ 5,00 shipment, which altogether is about half the price what the other sellers for this item are requesting. So far, there is available even a 3D blu-ray - and a regular 2D blu ray - in blu-ray-zone 2. Why not for the USA - blu-ray zone 1? Ah!, the merchants ... When will this nonsense about dvd and blu-ray regions stop. Greed is godd and necessary, but excesive greed is bad and stupid for everybody.
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on February 4, 2012
Dance, dance, otherwise we are lost!

PINA (2011) WIN Winders:

The great people transmuted simple action into art. Who said that Midas was a man? Wasn't she Phillipa "Pina" Bausch?
I invite you to see this film, a poem in motion, and if you're like me, that when you get excited, you cry, take enough tissue napkins, or clean socks, adsorbent gloves, all of that because the scenes of Pina are sublime, and when the epiphany bursts, usually target to the tear glands.
The choreographic capacity of Pina Bausch was unusual. She agglomerates the dancers, in one being with legs, bodies and arms in perfect synchronicity, sometimes it is a binary being, men and women, spilling emotions though their bodies. Her love of painting, leads to choreographic design like canvas, with brushstrokes perfectly designed, and time to rehearsal, which use to create elements of surprise, with shades of wonder and uncertainty.
Pina passed away five days after being diagnosed with cancer at age 68, Win Winders, the director of this film in 3D, was about to stop all the production. But Pina`s companions, dancers, and family, at least his son Solomon, and the people who admired her "Tanstheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch" fans', asked for to keep the project on, that did not stop the work of this dream-maker film director Win Winders. The result of adding two geniuses in one film, this two wonderful human beings that were born around Dresden, in East Germany, is a masterpiece of art, with the only cualification of superlatively emotional.
From the time I saw the movie "Nosthalgia" of my admired Andrei Tarkovsky, I had not felt so excited and ecstatic, for a film of any genre, until now. This movie produces inside me a sense of epiphany. Because it is full of synthetic visions of the contemporary world, that of course is not new.
Dancers participating in the documentary - although hard to circumscribe this film only in a work of this genre -. Describes Pina Bausch in their words, sad and excited, they felt already nostalgia for her. I got the impression that those professionals dancers, they were depicted a kind of goddess of body movement, sets and themes linked to superb choreography poems, which implies an amazing level of cognitive complexity.
Their scenarios were unusual, for example in "Vollmond", the performance was develop on brown earth, in there a group of women have a horror and attraction as well, for a red nightie, while the men leader claims, that to be part of the dowry of the woman who will choose.
In another work of Pina: "Café Müller", that she used to be part of, Pina dance with her eyes closed, while a man is removing the tables and chairs. Pina tell us, in an off narration, that this scene, when she opened his eyes at the end of the work, she was transformed.
The choreographer also participated as an actress with film director Federico Fellini in his movie "And the Ship Sails?" As the Princess Lherimia.
Pina Bausch received several awards throughout her career, such as the "Laurence Oliver" in Britain, in the prize "Kyoto" in Japan and the Goethe Prize in Frankfurt Germany
This year the film on Pina, is already nominated for several awards, and at least four of his works will be on stage in celebration of the "Olympics" in London, 2012.
The use of basic elements, women and old men, the dynamic law of gravity, as the antagonistic natural element of the flying dancers, abundant water, earth, wind and sun. In addition to the narrative themes that humans have told us from the caves to the mobile chat and what follows, are a proof that Pina was a woman that knew to tune the limbic system of human emotions and read into her dancers and know what kind of personal stories they have and what kind of goals they would like to achieve.
Win Winders, developed an unconventional documentary, without concessions or sentimentalisms. His intention is to make us partakers of the wonderful woman who Pina Busch was, and perhaps with that improve, even slightly, the pain of his departure.
Winders is the director of "The American Friend", "Paris Texas", "Wings of Desire," "The End of the Violence" also the documentary about the Cuban orchestra of olds musicians, "Buena Vista Social Club". He was born in Dresden, close to town where Pina was born, studied medicine and philosophy, but he did not completed them. He try entering several times to formally study film, however like François Truffaut in France, it was by being a regular assistant to films and work on the drafting of Der Spiegel, that generated the basic knowledge that allow him to make his films.
Installed more from the position of an emotional and observational cinema, his films are about unusual situations of estrange people. In the film, "Paris, Texas", for instance, Harry Dean Stanton plays Travis Henderson, a subject in a state of dromomania (less intense than the one that we saw in Forest Gump, because he runs tirelessly for moths and grown beards and hair). Travis enters from the desert to a small restaurant and drink what is in the refrigerator. To learn that after the pain of neglect, indifference, or what Wajda called "No Anesthesia" Bez znieczulenia (1978), which caused such locomotors activity.
Winders, like his compatriot Herzog (The Cave of forgotten dreams), ventures under a lucky star in the technology of the third dimension, and strings sublime touches, for example, when at the end of "Pina" he made a tribute, I think consciously to Ettore Scola and his film "The Dance" (Le Bal) (1983), in which Scola narrated, through popular dance, twenty years of life in France in XX century. At the end of each French historical period, a photographer invisible takes a snapshot. In the Win Winders movie, Pina, the photographer is not invisible, as it takes pictures of the dancing couples, that letter on comments on Pina Bausch.
Human beings are not just what we see in the mirror, but how we perceive each time that we move, and each time we see the same the same dynamics in the others. That is why this movie is an special one for those who see the synthesis of arts inside a screen.
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on March 28, 2013
Pina - a film by Wim Wenders

WOW!! First, let me say I am not a modern dance aficionado, but after viewing this film (twice already, and in 3D to boot!), I feel a whole new appreciation for modern dance, and especially the works of Pina Bausch and her amazing dance company!

This particular film by Wim Wenders blew me away! It was beautiful, often heartbreakingly so, and occasionally even funny and whimsical. Not only has Wim Wenders captured the beauty of modern dance through the medium of film, but he has hugely enhanced the experience by successfully and beautifully filming it in 3D!

I didn't really get into the dances portrayed in the film immediately, but after a half hour or so, I was hooked, and had to keep watching to the end. I decided to view it a second time with the director's commentary...and that really cinched the film for me. Wim Wenders does an excellent job with his rather soft, even somewhat monotone voice, heavy with German accent. He offers insight into most of the dances (extremely helpful for me!) and the development of the film, and via the commentary we learn why the film contains little information about Pina Bausch and only excerpts of Pina's wonderful works. It just so happens that of the two "rules" Pina and Wim agreed to as part of their collaboration, one was that Pina wanted the film to NOT be biographical. The other was that she wanted never to be interviewed.

The dancers are terrific! Such beautiful arms and deep expressiveness in each and every dancer, male and female, younger and older alike. Of the 24 or 25 dancers in her company, most appear to be quite "seasoned" (meaning around 50 years old, or perhaps even older!), adding (I believe) a very comforting and satisfying depth to the artistic interpretations.

There are even two brief clips of Pina herself dancing many years earlier, and she is mesmerizing in both short excerpts!

The 3D effect is fabulous, especially in the outdoor scenes!

English subtitles are provided but limited to sections where translation is necessary, and not available when dialogue (of which there is little anyway!) is in English. The commentary is in English, so no subtitles there.

I viewed the "making of" section, accompanied with commentary by Wim Wenders (not subtitled). It is about 45 minutes long with very helpful insight into the intricacies of filming "Pina," especially in 3D. I had no idea how very complicated it is to film in 3D!! Something else wonderful we benefit from by viewing the "making of" section is more dance excerpts of Pina's works, many of which are not included in the film. We also get to see Wim Wenders in action...he appears to be a quiet spoken, patient man, filled with a huge amount of gracious appreciation for the dancers, his film crew, Pina's works, and of course for Pina herself!

The one technical failing in the DVD itself is that to view the deleted scenes (all 14 of which are wonderfully included in 3D, and which you would do yourself a HUGE favor by viewing!!), is that Criterion did NOT make it possible to "view all." Instead, one must cue up each and every one of them individually, PLUS cue up the audio separately for each to hear Wim's optional commentary on all of them (also a "must hear")!! Doing so means adding a considerable amount of extra time to see and hear each deleted scene, but they are ALL worth viewing regardless!

If you appreciate fine film making, wonderful modern dancing, and the potential to be moved to tears by the dancing and the sheer emotion of the music, treat yourself to this beautiful film. Wim Wenders and Pina's dance company have presented it as a tribute to Pina, as Pina died before it was completed.
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on June 11, 2012
I saw the 3-D version in the movie theater and thoroughly enjoyed it enough to risk buying the dvd (0 zone rated). Sadly, 0 zone rating does not mean it will play on some or older USA machines; the disc (2d) will only play PAL compliant machines. I decided to buy a non-region specific dvd player. This disc works perfectly and the images as haunting as when I saw it in a movie theatre. Note: this particular disc is subtitled in Italian with the original sound track and voice track as recorded (English, French, etc.). This review is an update and change from my original review
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on March 9, 2012
Though the film was nominated for Oscar's Best Documentary in 2012, "Pina" directed by Wim Wenders ("Wings of Desire" "Buena Vista Social Club"), looks more like a tribute to an acclaimed dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch. Because of her sudden death in 2009, the project was almost canceled, but Wenders didn't give up the idea of making a film for her.

So in "Pina" you don't see much of the person Pina Bausch herself. Instead, what you will see is largely her works performed by the dancers of the Tanztheater Wuppertal Pina Bausch, contemporary dance pieces filmed for this movie, including except from "The Rite of Spring," "Café Müller" (briefly seen in Pedro Almodóvar's "Talk to Her"), "Kontakthof" and "Full Moon."

The film also includes the comments of dancers of the company (delivered in voiceovers). What the dancers have to say does not reveal much about the person for whom the film was made. It sounds more like eulogy to their teacher. Perhaps it should be so, though this may not be exactly what you wanted to know.

Though I know little about contemporary dance, I was fascinated by the amazing movements of the dancers that are beautiful, intense and even comical at times. To be honest I sometimes could not understand what those dancers are trying to express with their dancing (which looks often bizarre), I somehow know it is about raw emotions of a human.

I'm not a big fan of Wim Wenders films, of which drama I sometimes find dry and detached. To me he is more like a painter with a camera and he is always good at using the existing landscapes. In "Pina" he uses the city of Wuppertal (where Pina Bausch lived for a long time) and its suspension railway ("floating train") very effectively as the backdrop of dancing scenes.

Those who are interested in Pina Bausch herself may want to watch a documentary "Dancing Dreams."
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on March 16, 2015
This is a fantastic 3D video, and will also be good in flat display. It is basically about Pina and shows some of her works. Unfortunately it does not show complete works, which is slightly frustrating.
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on January 26, 2013
Last year I bought a 3D version of this film because I'd just watched Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams", absolutely loved it and the write ups for this one looked great. It was, and still is one of the few 3D films designed for adult audiences. Unfortunately, I couldn't watch it on anything I own and was really bummed about it, especially since it was very expensive for a DVD.
Recently I saw it in 2D and within a quick 10 minutes, hit pause and looked on here. Lo and behold, a US 3D version is now available! (This IS a BluRay disk that plays on American machines...double check and make sure you're getting this one)
I've never been a big dance fan, but this film has put an end to that. In 2D it is an absorbing and beautiful work of art well worth watching several times. The soundtrack is spectacular (which I bought as well), the cinematography stunning and the performances mind bendingly direct, complex and awe-inspiring.
I just finished watching it in 3D. Take what I just wrote, quadruple the experience and then some. It changes everything about the film. If you are familiar with and are a fan of the work of Pina Bausch, then you already know that this gem is a "must have" whether in 2D or 3D. I'm not kidding, it is almost worth going out and buying a 3D TV just for this film alone (but if you do, get one that you can use the REAL D glasses with and not the shutter type that need batteries and whatever...I LOVE my LG and it wasn't any more expensive than regular HDTVs).
I don't know enough about modern dance to say that Pina Bausch is a genius, but in my opinion, as a visual thinker, she is right up there with the greatest painters of our time. Her passion for life, movement through space and time and sound is evocative, sublime and pure in every respect of the word. There is nothing phoney or pretentious going on at all here.
Her dance company is phenomenal to say the least and like the best athletes and artists, they make it all look effortless. Again, not being well versed in dance, it sure looked like she knew how to find the most talented dancers from around the world and in their own words, knew how to bring out the best in each of them. I found myself moved to tears several times throughout this film just for its shear sense of joy, wonderment and at times, sadness. This is one of those works I am so glad I bought because I know that I'm going to be watching it over and over again. So far, like any great art it has only gotten better. It will be a must see for all of my friends and students alike.
In a strange sense of irony, Pina passed away two days before the filming of this project began. Our loss of this magical woman is tragic to say the least, especially when wondering what incredible places she could have taken us from here. She most definately left this world a better place than it was when she came into it because of her gifts to us all. Thank you Wim Wenders for making this film and thank you Pina Bausch and company for enriching my life and soul.
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